Family of 6-year-old hit and killed wants stiffer punishments

Family of 6-year-old hit and killed wants stiffer punishments

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Mid-South woman is calling for stiffer punishments after her 6-year-old cousin was hit and killed crossing the street.

It's been just over a year since Gardenview first grader CJ Smith was hit and killed by an SUV while walking home from school.

The boy's family is now fighting for change to hold drivers more accountable for these crashes.

"Something needs to be done. In Memphis, there are too many hit and runs," said CJ's cousin Danielle Jones. "Too many breaking news saying someone's been hit and killed."

Danielle has collected more than a thousand signatures on a petition she started last year days after the passing of her cousin.

CJ was walking home from school when a driver hit the first grader as he crossed Raines Road. He later died from those injuries.

"He was the apple of everybody's eye," Danielle said. "He loved animals."

Police arrested 36-year-old Arthur Carpenter, the driver of the SUV, who stayed at the scene. Carpenter was arrested under the Ricky Otts Law. Police say Carpenter had no driver's license or proof of insurance.

"Even if it was a mistake, you still should be held accountable," Danielle said. "This man didn't have insurance; he didn't have any driver's license."

A year later, his family is advocating for change, pushing for drivers to be held more accountable and harsher punishments for pedestrian deaths.

"Mandatory. I can push for 25 years; it's something that needs to be mandatory as far as taking a life," Danielle said.

On Friday, CJ's family gathered at the site where he was struck by an SUV to remember the little boy's life taken too soon.

The family is calling for the law to be named after CJ, and it would demand all uninsured and unlicensed drivers responsible for fatal accidents to spend 25 years behind bars.

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